The City of Arcades tour explores the cosmopolitan food scene of Cardiff’s iconic arcades
Cardiff is called The City of Arcades because of its network of beautiful Edwardian and Victorian arcades – and now a new food tour is lifting the lid on their vibrant food scene.
From delicatessens and makers of traditional Welshcakes through to wine bars and Indian street food, the tour uncovers all the arcades’ most delicious secrets, with a chance to meet and chat with the people behind these ventures while enjoying lots of food, drink and anecdotes along the way.
Cardiff’s new City of Arcades food tour runs on alternate Fridays and Saturdays. During the school holidays it will also run on Tuesdays, making a great family day out, with children aged 12 and above welcomed at concessionary prices.
The tour lasts for approximately four and a half hours, with plenty of time spent sitting down, relaxing and enjoying great food and drink backed by entertaining stories from your guide. It’s guaranteed to leave you well-fed and inspired.
Starting at Waterloo Teas’ Wyndham tea room in the Wyndham Arcade with an exclusive tea tasting and home-made breakfast treats, the tour meanders through Cardiff’s arcades, taking in seven stops including a chance to hear the story of the iconic Wally’s Deli and sample some of its products; enjoy spicy delights at Tukka Tuk, an atmospheric Indian street food outlet run by multi-award-winning chef Anand George; and sip fine wines at Nighthawks Wine Bar while munching their legendary, unctuous cheese toasties.
“We’ve designed the tour to reflect the full scope of what’s available in Cardiff’s arcades,” says Sian Roberts, whose company, Loving Welsh Food, runs the tours. “The area has a rich variety of food that reflects Cardiff’s history as a port city: it welcomed people from all over the world and many set up food businesses here, combining their own culinary traditions with wonderful ingredients from Wales.
“From Indian food to artisanal gelato, continental cheeses and Spanish sherry and wines, there’s a huge amount to discover.”
Sian, who speaks five languages including Welsh, started her career working internationally as a tour guide before returning to Wales and pursuing a long career in TV and radio presenting and production. Along the way, she has found many outlets for her passion for food – including producing Coginio, a two-DVD series on Welsh cooking, which inspired her to start Loving Welsh Food.
While she still works as a BBC radio announcer, she loves nothing more than introducing people to the edible delights of her vibrant home city.
“Cardiff is an ideal place to run food tours,” she says. “For a start, there is just so much excellent food and drink to enjoy here. Secondly, it’s been called a 15-minute city because you can reach all the key places in the heart of the city in just 15 minutes on foot.”
This makes it easy for Sian’s City of Arcades tours to take in key sights such as Cardiff Castle and Cardiff Indoor Market, where tour members are given time to explore the many stalls and soak up the unique atmosphere. Here, as on every stop on the tour, there is the opportunity to do a bit of food shopping – with many of the stops offering discounts for tour members.
“Our tours include food samples that add up to a very generous meal,” says Sian. “They include drinks, savoury dishes and desserts – but many of our guests fall in love with things they’ve sampled and make other delicious discoveries in places we stop at. The discounts for tour members make it easy and affordable to stock up on goodies to take home with you.”
The tour has been set up with the help of a grant from FOR Cardiff, Cardiff’s Business Improvement District. Carolyn Brownell – FOR Cardiff Executive Director (Interim) said:
“We are pleased to support the development and launch of Loving Welsh Food’s new City of Arcades Tasting Tour. By leveraging Cardiff’s identity as the City of Arcades, this tour will not only attract visitors to the city but it will also support Cardiff’s independent food and drink businesses.”
The tours are already proving popular. One tour guest, Tricia Harris from Neath, said:
“I loved the latest Loving Welsh Food Tour of the Arcades of Cardiff. It is so much fun and we had a wide variety of food and drink. Some of my favourites were the cheese toasties, ice cream, olives, and the sweet sherry! Sian gave us some great history of the arcades whilst on the tour. The pace was great. I would recommend it to not only tourists but local based food lovers!”
The tours also make ideal gifts for local friends and visitors alike.
“A food tour is one of the best ways to get to know a place you’re visiting, or to get to know the place you live better,” says Sian. “I’m very proud of what Cardiff – and Wales – have to offer and my mission is to get food from Wales properly recognised and celebrated the world over.”